Keres-Speaking Pueblos

The Keres language is an isolate language spoken only among the people of seven pueblos in New Mexico. The language is further divided into Eastern and Western subsets, each of which is significantly different from the other. Each pueblo also has its own dialect of Keres but each dialect is mutually intelligible with its nearest neighbors.

Some sources say Keres has been traced back through Chaco Canyon to the Mesa Verde area. It took a couple hundred years for all the migrating to happen but eventually, all the Keres-speaking people settled in an area that became the middle Rio Grande Pueblos and in the area south of the Rio Puerco and west of the Rio Grande.

The Acomas were in the same place more than 1,000 years ago. There were other pueblos nearby in the Laguna area but they were all abandoned and the people moved northwest to the Mesa Verde area. Today's Laguna Pueblo was settled by refugees leaving Acoma in the mid-1690's to make peace with the Spanish when they returned to New Mexico after the 1680 revolt.

The other Keres-speaking pueblos were settled by migrants moving back to the area from Mesa Verde, first stopping in the Jemez Mountains on the Pajarito Plateau for a couple hundred years (site of today's Bandelier National Monument). Then came another period of drought and the various groups moved closer to the Rio Grande itself. That migration was still going on when Coronado and his men came through in 1540. When the Spanish returned in force a few years later, the Franciscans among them named each pueblo after different Catholic saints and began their attempted destruction of native languages and religions while enslaving the people to build great mission structures and serve the priests so fully that they couldn't even feed and clothe themselves properly.